Published April 29, 2014
Southern Gospel music is, more fundamentally than anything else, "message music." The "Gospel" is good news, so, without presenting the Gospel, this music wouldn't live up to its name. Since I just presented the Top 20 countdown for May on last weekend's program, let's look at those songs and see what messages come across.
Probably the most common message is one of encouragement for the believer in difficult times encouragement to hold onto the faith because we know Who is in control and that He is faithful and able. The Whisnants' song, "He Can Move That Stone," is an example:
1You said you have a stone, been in your way so long
A test of faith, a heavy weight that takes away your song.
Oh, don't give in, you have a Friend
He can move your stone / He alone will help you smile again.
When He does, you'll praise Him, as in "I Know How It Feels To Survive" by Jeff & Sheri Easter. Also, Red Roots' "Seven Days" reminds us that
2My trouble is nothing in Your hands / If I just step back, I know I'd be amazed
In my life, oh the things you'd do / If I'd just give it all to you....
Perhaps because we recently came through the Easter season but, I would hope, because it's so fundamental for the Christian we saw several songs on the chart about the Cross and Christ's shed blood. There's the Perrys' song about "The Blood And Its Power," a title that says it all. There's Gordon Mote's song, "Meanwhile Back At The Cross," which powerfully reminds us that "forgiveness is bought with each drop of His blood..."
Because of the Lord's redemptive work on the Cross, we can clearly sense the great love of God. As Brian Free & Assurance sing it in, "Nothing But Love,"
3I feel nothing but love every time I think of
The One who saved me, the joy that Jesus gave me
I feel nothing but grace when I think of the way
That I was living and all that He's forgiven...
And as we sense that love and grace, and as we live and grow in it daily, we can echo the words in Canton Junction's song, "Sweeter As The Days Go By" ...
4It gets sweeter as the days go by, it gets sweeter as the moments fly
His love is richer, deeper, fuller, sweeter ... as the days go by.
"I See Grace," sung by the Booth Brothers, emphasizes the joy one has when sins are forgiven by God's grace. It literally changes lives, as the Mylon Hayes Family sings in one of the most "message-direct" songs among current offerings, "Jesus Can Change Your Life"...
5Jesus can change your life / I know because He changed mine.
My friend, you will find / His love goes beyond your sin
His mercy is so great / His grace has no end
Just believe His blood paid the price / Jesus can change your life.
How much more basic can it get? That is the Gospel message. And it's a message that needs to be preached, over and over, in non-watered-down form, as Greater Vision's song, "Preacher Tell Me Like It Is," reminds us.
When our faith is strong and we live as the Lord wants us to live, we can have confidence in what follows when this life is over. Interestingly, at least four songs in the top 20 reflect this theme. "Lead Me Home" by the Freemans tells the story of a long-time Christian whose life on earth is about to end but he is excited about what's ahead. But "Finish Well" by Karen Peck & New River is a reminder that "there's still work to be done" so "Until the Savior finally calls us home / Give it everything we have / Finish well." And then, "When He Calls (I'll Fly Away)" as sung by the Talleys faithfully anticipating "A Wonderful Time Up There" as sung by the Mark Trammell Quartet.
I was struck, too, by songs that could only be considered offerings of worship and praise. One is the Hoskins Family's "Whenever I Hear His Name"...
6I hear a melody angels can't sing / A chorus that rises from all the redeemed
An anthem of praise, the saints of all ages proclaim,
That's what I hear, whenever I hear His name.
The Lord's name is powerful. And the month's number one song, "Lift Up His Name" by the Browders, says His name is worthy of eternal praise:
7I'll praise Him forever / He gave me life
My heart will proclaim / That He is the Christ...
I'll lift up His name again...
The Old Paths' song, "Long Live The King," puts a fitting "amen" on this spirit of worship:
8Long live the King, where there's no future, there's no past
He'll reign supreme, as long as everlasting lasts
In the New Jerusalem God with us and us with Him
Through the ages He'll hear our praises ring / Long live the King!
How can anyone not get excited about the strength of the messages in these songs? This is not watered-down, sing-song feel-good stuff. These songs have meat. They have the power to change lives. And that power is not man's power, but the power of the Gospel as it flows through gifted and obedient songwriters and singers. And that's what it's all about.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." (Romans 1:16.)
1. "He Can Move That Stone," Rodney Griffin/Jim Brady, Songs of Greater Vision/Brady House Pub BMI
2. "Seven Days," Sarah Peasall McGuffy/Amy Lewis, McGuffy Music/Amy Nicole Lewis Music ASCAP
3. "Nothing But Love," Gina Boe/Marty Funderburk/Kenna Turner West, Winding Way Music ASCAP
4. "Sweeter As The Days Go By," Genser Smith, LeFevre-Sing Pub BMI
5. "Jesus Can Change Your Life," Rebecca J. Peck, Thomas Peck Music BMI
6. "Whenever I Hear His Name," Marty Funderburk/Joseph Habedank, Christian Taylor Music/Habeholt Music BMI
7. "Lift Up His Name," Matthew Browder, Christian Taylor Music BMI
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